Why some of us gain weight more than others
I know that this blog focuses on improving your tennis game but I am a fond believer that fitness/health is just as important as technique/strategy. Tennis is becoming more and more a physical game and requires a lot from your body. I wanted to focus on weight gain, as that can be a detriment to your tennis game. Having 10+ pounds extra than you should slow you down and prevent the mobility you need to get the most out of your performance on the court. The more educated we are on this subject, the better decisions we can make to keep our weight gain to a minimum as we get older. As a certified health coach, I have some interesting information that will help you understand the science of weight gain and allow you to make better decisions on your own nutrition.
What Science Says
Body type is important. Think about the fuel gauge below. Instead of “E” for empty and “F” for full, think of the “E” as energy and the “F” for fat. Each body type is different and either takes the food we eat and converts it mostly to energy or fat. Think about that. This means that the energy from the food we eat can be either used for energy or fat, depending on the body. This explains why some people have a hard time gaining or losing weight. The traditional skinny people that you know that cannot gain much weight no matter what they do have active hormones that help convert the food they eat to energy while the ones that gain weight easily have the reverse problem where they have a hard time generating a lot of energy from their foods and instead, are converted to fat. For people with bodies that convert foods to fat more easily, this can be quite frustrating due to the fact that overeating is so easy to do since most of the food is not going to be used for regular functioning, making you feel hungry while eating plenty of calories. Remember, as you get older, your body uses the food more and more to create fat, making it harder to lose weight. Basically, the gauge slowly creeps more and more to the “F” for fat. Knowing this will help you make the decisions needed to keep you from gaining unhealthy weight.
What to Eat
To combat weight gain, avoid anything that will spike your insulin. (Assuming you are not working out. Read my blog on eating before and after working out that is different than what this is saying). Insulin will store the energy you just eat into your fat cells. Foods that spike insulin are foods with simple carbohydrates such as sweets, pastas, breads and chips will all do the trick. Note that this is even more harmful when you are eating simple carbs that are also fatty before bed. Foods such as cookies, ice cream and other sweets have a combination that shut off your best fat burning hormone that is the most active in the middle of the night. So avoid sweets before bed! Try to eat a lot of vegetables when feeling hungry as they have a lot of nutrients and few calories. Fruits have a lot of sugar in them, making it something to avoid in high amounts.
Best Way to Lose Weight
From my experience I have two things that seem to do the trick. Stop eating out and eat a small dinner (meaning low on calories). Restaurants make food that taste very good by adding the things our body craves: fats, sugars and salts. These unnecessary calories add up and make it hard to lose weight. Also every morning you should be waking up hungry, meaning a small dinner early is important to let your body rest during the night. Big meals keep the body in full digestion mode that makes it hard to get the deep sleep needed for your fat burning hormones to start working.
Maybe it’s time to stop blaming your forehand or serve for your loses on the tennis court and look more to your health. It will bring you more confidence and open doors for you to hit the ball harder with more accuracy while moving better. It’s no surprise that Djokovic started becoming dominate when he focused on his nutrition and fitness a lot more.